01 April, 2016

Sir Richard Damory

I wrote a post a while ago about a plot to free some Contrariants from prison in 1323, and mentioned Edward II's then household steward, Sir Richard Damory. Rather curiously, there's no page on the English Wikipedia about Richard, but there is on the German one. Here's a post about him.

Richard was the elder brother of Edward II's favourite Sir Roger Damory, who came to prominence in the middle years of Edward's reign. The men were the sons - apparently the only two - of Sir Robert Damory of Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire, himself the son of Roger Damory the elder, who was still alive on 27 May 1281 when Edward I gave him a gift of four bucks from the forest of Whittlewood. (CCR 1279-88, p. 86) The Damory family was associated with Henry III's brother Richard, earl of Cornwall (died 1272) and his son Edmund (d. 1300): Roger the elder and his son and heir Robert witnessed the men's charters, and Robert travelled overseas with Edmund in 1280. Robert died shortly after 12 July 1285, leaving his elder son Richard as his heir, his younger son Roger, a widow Juliana, who held a third of the Buckinghamshire manor of Thornborough as part of her dower, and a daughter Katherine, who married Sir Walter le Poer or Poure of Oxfordshire. The dates of birth of the Damory brothers are not known; if I had to guess, I'd say Richard was born around the mid to late 1270s (he was summoned for military service for the first time in 1297), and Roger perhaps in the early to mid 1280s, not too long before their father Robert died in 1285. The Damorys came from a long line of Damorys, knights of Oxfordshire. As far as I can tell, the line goes like this (going backwards in time from son to father): Richard and Roger - Robert, d. 1285 - Roger, d. c. 1281 - Robert, sheriff of Oxfordshire and constable of Oxford Castle, d. c. 1236 - Robert, d. c. 1205 (he had brothers called Richard and Roger) - Ralph, d. c. 1187 - Roger, active in the 1130s and 1140s - Robert, d. c. 1139. We can see from this that the Damory men were extremely fond of names beginning with R. They were a solid knightly family who held the manors of Bucknell and Bletchingdon (both in Oxfordshire) for many generations, were not of the highest nobility or particularly rich, but had a good name stretching back centuries: the Robert who died in or around 1139 may have been the son or grandson of Gilbert, who held the manor of Bucknell in 1086, according to the Domesday Book. (But as Gilbert wasn't called Roger, Richard, Robert or Ralph, he probably wasn't allowed to be a Damory, haha.)

In the last years of Edward I's reign and at the beginning of Edward II's, the elder brother Richard Damory was far more prominent than his brother Roger, being appointed keeper of the peace in Oxfordshire in 1300 and forester for life of the forest of Whittlewood in 1310, and most significantly, constable of the castle of Oxford in April 1308 at a time when Edward II was transferring the custody of key royal castles to men he trusted; the threat of civil war was then imminent thanks to the king's excessive favour towards Piers Gaveston. Edward also re-appointed Richard as keeper of the peace in Oxfordshire at this time, and Richard witnessed Piers' grant of two of his Oxfordshire manors to the king. In the aftermath of Piers Gaveston's death in the summer of 1312, Edward appointed Richard as commissioner of array in Oxfordshire when the possibility of civil war once more loomed. He was also sheriff of Berkshire. (For Oxford Castle, see CFR 1307-1319, p. 21; keeper of the peace, CPR 1292-1301, p. 516, CPR 1307-1313, p. 54, CCR 1307-1313, p. 205, Chancery Warrants 1244-1326, p. 111; forester of Whittlewood, CPR 1307-1313, pp. 223, 449, 571, Chancery Warrants 1244-1326, p. 312; Piers Gaveston's grant, CCR 1307-1313, p. 65; commissioner of array, CPR 1307-1313, p. 486; Berkshire, Chancery Warrants 1244- 1326, p. 366.)

The overall picture of Sir Richard Damory is of a dependable and highly competent knight, soldier and administrator, loyal to the king, a man whom Edward II trusted. And the rise of Sir Roger Damory in Edward II's affections in and after 1315, and particularly his marriage to the king's widowed niece Elizabeth de Clare in 1317 - the greatest gift Edward had in his possession - also led to an increase of royal favours towards his elder brother Sir Richard Damory. At New Year 1318, Richard was one of twenty-five knights who received a silver goblet, valued at seven pounds, from the king. (Stapleton, 'Brief Summary', p. 344) Sometime before 11 April 1318, Richard was appointed 'keeper of the body of my lord Sir Edward, earl of Chester'; that is, he became the guardian of Edward II and Isabella of France's elder son the future Edward III. (Chancery Warrants 1244-1326, p. 485) On the same day as this appointment is mentioned, Richard and three other men were appointed to enquire into negligence and extortions committed by officials in Cheshire and North Wales. (CPR 1317-21, p. 134) In 1300, Richard had been a member of the household of Humphrey de Bohun, earl of Hereford, who became Edward of Caernarfon's brother-in-law in 1302 when he married Edward's sister Elizabeth. (Ibid., p. 111) After the death of Guy Beauchamp, earl of Warwick, in August 1315, Edward appointed Richard keeper of his castles of Warwick and Elmley. (Ibid., pp. 425, 432) Richard also owned the manor of Ubley in Somerset, which in 1313 was attacked and robbed by a group of men, and some of Richard's goods and his trees stolen. (Patent Rolls 1307-13, p. 601; Ibid. 1313-17, pp. 64, 67, 246) The legal process relating to this attack dragged on and on, and in December 1314 some of the thieves were said to be Ralph Gorges (a knight of the Despensers) and a parson.

Richard Damory's years of favour seemed to come to an end when his brother Roger, edged out of the king's affections by Hugh Despenser the Younger, joined the Contrariant rebellion against Edward in 1321/22. Roger died on 12 March 1322 of wounds sustained while fighting against Edward's army, leaving his widow, the king's niece Elizabeth de Clare, and his only legitimate child and heir Elizabeth Damory. Edward II, who could be remarkably vindictive and spiteful, and despite Richard Damory's many years of service and loyalty to him and his son, ordered the sheriff of Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire and the sheriff of Oxfordshire and Berkshire on 16 February 1322 to arrest him. This was done apparently for no other reason than Edward suspected Richard of joining his brother's rebellion, which he had not. The sheriff of Oxfordshire soon found Richard and arrested him; on 26 February 1322, only ten days after the order, Richard was sent to Banbury Castle to be imprisoned, and granted 'reasonable maintenance' for as long as he should remain there. (CCR 1318-23, pp. 421, 425) On 19 February 1322, the sheriffs of Oxfordshire and Berkshire, Somerset and Dorset and Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire, and the mayor and bailiffs of Bristol, were ordered to seize all his lands, goods and chattels. (CFR 1319-27, p. 99) Richard was, however, soon released and his lands and goods restored to him, on 16 March 1322 (the day of the battle of Boroughbridge). (CCR 1323-27, p. 51) Presumably he had successfully protested his innocence and lack of involvement in his brother's treason. In July 1322, Edward II even appointed Richard as steward of his household, a position he held until May 1325; there were no hard feelings on Edward's side, at least, though I'm not sure about Richard's. He was appointed justice of Chester and North Wales by Edward II sometime before 2 March 1326, and confirmed in the position on 12 December 1326, which was after Queen Isabella's invasion and when Edward II was in captivity; this suggests that Richard Damory had supported Isabella, or at least had nothing done anything to hinder her. (CCR 1323-7, pp. 450, 626; CPR 1324-7, p. 338) Richard still held this position in the summer of 1327, when he was ordered to arrest the Dunheved brothers Thomas and Stephen and their allies, who were causing mayhem in Chester and who shortly afterwards temporarily freed Edward from Berkeley Castle.

Sir Richard Damory was married to a woman called Margaret or Margery, whose identity I don't know (if anyone does, please do tell me!). He died shortly before 1 September 1330, probably in his early fifties or so, leaving his son Richard (of course) as his heir. Richard the elder didn't live quite long enough to see Edward III, whose guardian he had once been, overthrow his mother and Roger Mortimer on 19 October 1330. The younger Richard was said in his father's IPM of 1330 to be 'aged sixteen years and more', so was born in about 1314. (CIPM 1327-36, pp. 202-3; see also CFR 1327-37. pp. 192, 203) Richard the younger was granted possession of his lands after coming of age (twenty-one) and swearing homage to the king in January 1337; his mother Margaret was still alive then, and Richard himself lived until 1375. (CCR 1333-7, p. 640)

A knight of later in the fourteenth century, who was very high in Edward III's favour, was Sir Nicholas Damory. He also served for many years in the household of Roger Damory's widow Elizabeth de Clare, Edward III's first cousin. Elizabeth's biographer France Underhill (For Her Good Estate, p. 186 note 67) suggests that Nicholas was a first cousin of Richard Damory (d. 1330)'s son Richard (d. 1375), which would make him either the son of another Damory brother who does not appear on record at all, which seems unlikely, or Roger Damory's illegitimate son (he can't have been legitimate if he was Roger's son, as Roger's heir was his daughter Elizabeth, Lady Bardolf, his only surviving legitimate child). Another member of Elizabeth de Clare's household in the 1330s was a young Roger Damory, perhaps Nicholas's brother, perhaps another illegitimate son of Roger (d. 1322), perhaps even an illegitimate son of Roger's brother Richard. It would be great if I could work out the correct family tree of the Damorys; they're a family who interest me a lot.

2 comments:

Anerje said...

Feel some sympathy for Richard, as he remained loyal, but paid the price for his brother's treachery.

sami parkkonen said...

The histories of some of these families are truly ineteresting. It would be great to see a well made, historically accurate tv-series about one of these. Or read a book about one.